Steve Driscoll – Old Still River Road
ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present Steve Driscoll’s first solo show, Old Still River Road, in the West Gallery from December 9, 2010 through January 15, 2011. An opening night reception will be held on Thursday, December 9 from 6 – 9pm. A landscape painter in the mainstream of the Canadian tradition, Toronto-based OCAD graduate Steve Driscoll’s work is an embodiment of the notion that our ocular vision – and the corresponding memory of things seen – is particularly well represented in art by images of open, natural space. Driscoll is interested in conjuring and manifesting a vision of nature, undulating with atmosphere and heightened color effects, but watched over by the architectural proofs of human presence, with rural buildings that seem somehow to be guardians; they are strangely animated centers of our connection to the vast wilderness that surrounds us. This idea of a metonymic human presence in the wilderness forms the nucleus of his true subject; the habitations and structures in Driscoll’s paintings are somehow anthropomorphized. It is as though in the absence of people, their buildings have come to life and awakened from inanimate slumber. They have the character of individuals. In this sense, the paintings are portraits of the buildings. In order to best capture the aura and identity of the types of scenes he wants to depict, Driscoll needed to find a technique that would permit him to represent the hallucinatory, spiritualized essence of these landscapes, and at the same time maximize his ability to draw and define them well. Settling on a method in which he can carefully control his imagery, and yet utilize the force of gravity itself to impart both the feeling of air and lightness to the paintings, he began to use a pouring method with a very liquid, urethane-based paint to build up his surfaces. Doing this proved perfect for his subject; the finished paintings have something of the feeling of true memories, in which a thing is seen, but with imperfect focus: known but in a way that feels like the vision could slip away at any time, or be found different to how we thought it was, even as we look. The works seem like they could alter themselves right in front of us. For example, in his lovely, quiet painting The Sun Shines, we see a house in the country through some birch trees, with a picnic table out front, and our attention is quickly focused on our own déjÃ -vu type feeling, along with aesthetic admiration at his handling of the material. The glowing color too – especially the semi-naturalistic bluish snow – and the way the drift of the flakes seem literally to descend in front of our eyes also arrest us. It is early evening; it’s slowly snowing, and we are suddenly more aware of ourselves; the work is suffused with a feeling most Canadians know very well, but find hard to put into words. There is a slight melancholy, but one that makes us feel like we would be grateful to be there. We feel that if we were we would not wish to be at the beach on an easy, sunny day where nothing reminds us of our mortal humanity, but solely focuses on easy pleasure. The black shadows of the trees and the slightly eerie dark blue sky likewise impart a sense of potential loss along with a strong, centered feeling of being somewhere secretly important. Driscoll’s work imparts a Canadian identity and mentality implicit in both art and nature, and makes a fine compromise between the two, achieving a seamless blend by adding traces of memory, perception and desire, where it becomes impossible to tell the two apart. Steve Driscoll lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. An OCAD graduate, Steve has exhibited his work in New York and Denmark, as well as in various galleries across Canada, including Toronto, St. Johns and Vancouver. Steve’s work has received critical review in both Canadian Art, NOW magazine, and DART International.